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Primates. 2002 Jan;43(1):41-9.

Grooming site preferences determined by lice infection among Japanese macaques in Arashiyama.

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Laboratory of Human Evolution Studies, Department of Zoology, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kitashirakawa-Oiwake-cho, Sakyo, Japan.


I investigated the effect of the density of louse eggs (Pedicinus obtusus and P. eurygaster) on grooming site preferences in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata). Louse eggs were more often found on the outer side of the body (upper back, lower back, outer arms, and outer legs) than on the inner side of the body (chest, belly, inner arms, and inner legs). Japanese macaques were more likely to be groomed on the outer side than the inner side of the body by allogrooming and autogrooming. Such grooming site preferences correlated with the distribution of louse eggs but not with the areas of body parts. Thus, the ecology of lice might affect grooming behavior of Japanese macaques. Five hundred and fifty louse eggs were estimated to parasitize an adult female Japanese macaque. Considering the intrinsic rate of natural increase of lice, monkeys need to be groomed almost every day. This suggests that Japanese macaques need grooming partners and form social bonds with others for everyday grooming.

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